Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Posts tagged ‘Children’

Video

On crafting with the hands to heal the world

This link is via Ann, and the blog Exopermaculture. Renate Hiller on “Handwork” caught my attention because one of the activities I’ve loved doing lately is working with fibers. This video expresses it beautifully.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfoByYLSBY8

Offspringing into the New Year

Two “children” were able to join us for the holidays, son and youngest daughter. Gratitude fills my heart for them, my eldest daughter, my two granddaughters, and my husband.

Happy New Year, from my family to yours!

Beach Play

Earth, air, fire and water today. Watching the little fishies, the granddaughters, splashing, swimming, playing, immersing themselves in coolness and fun. Soaking it in – the sky with wind-blown clouds, the sandy shore, the strong summer sun, and precious water. We are made of cycling earth, air, fire, water, constantly renewed. No wonder beach play feels so good!

A Seder? Today??

Today we will be attending a family Passover Seder, even though it’s not quite Passover. This family gathering is a large one, about fifty people, so scheduling can be tricky. At the home of a cousin, all ages will gather, from infants to great-grandparents, for a beautiful and joyous ritual meal remembering the Exodus; the themes of deliverance, humility, gratitude, liberation, and freedom; always a political dimension, usually expounded upon by one of the uncles; delicious food; much love. And a place for Elijah.

The children play a major part, reading from the Haggadah, and singing songs.  Children are very important on this holiday: “l’dor va-dor,” “from generation to generation.”

All the items on the ritual dinner plate have meanings associated with the holiday. The one most people are familiar with is the matzah, the unleavened bread. And there is much lifting of the cup of wine. The home becomes a sanctuary, a place for expressing gratitude, love, and celebration.

Passover blessings!

Time for Tending

“It’s a question of discipline,” the little prince told me. “When you’ve finished washing and dressing, you must tend your planet.” –  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The sun is shining, the air is relatively warm, and a stroll around the back forty (ha! forty would be nice!) reveals that crocuses and other spring green shoots are fighting their way through winter’s dead leaves and other debris. It’s time to tend, time to move or get rid of the stuff that’s in the way to make room for new growth, within and without. It’s a question of discipline.

From the book The Little Prince

Persephone returns!

In the Garden, March 5, 2010

When the first green shoots appeared in early spring, I took my then-young daughter out to the garden. There we sat on the earth while I told her Charlene Spretnak’s version of the  myth of Demeter and Persephone (Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths).

There are many Spring-related stories, myths and legends, but I chose this particular version because of the themes of mother-daughter love, the removal of the “rape” element (which was added in later, Hellenized versions), and the message of our deep embeddedness in nature.

Now I have granddaughters, and can share stories with them. Brigid’s light grows, and she spreads her green mantle across the land; the Christ-light will soon be resurrected in our hearts; and this month we celebrate the Celtic saints David (with daffodils) and Patrick (with shamrocks, seamrog– clovers and trefoils). One of my favorite Celtic saints is Melangell, patron of rabbits and hares, small animals, the natural environment, and healing. Bunnies and chicks! http://saintspreserved.com/Melangell.html

The daylight grows stronger, and will soon equal the hours of darkness. The robins are here, the mounds of snow are shrinking, and the green is sprouting. At last.

In the Garden - March 5, 2010

Our Ecstatic Identity

Picture this:

* a morning in early spring, crisp air with new sunshine, long-awaited respite from a fierce winter season in the North Country, near the Canadian border.

* a winter-beaten field at last free of snow, surrounded by bushes and small trees behind a white frame house, near the edge of a quiet village.

* a small girl of seven or eight, dressed in a  navy blue wool coat, matching hat and snow-pants.

She walks slowly, daydreaming, into the center of the field, idly examining and poking with the toe of her boot the swirled and crumpled patterns where the pressure of the winter’s snows flattened the tall grasses and weeds of her previous summer’s explorations and adventures. The low hummocks of grass and straw are now dry and crunchy under her boots, but give slightly under her step, as spring begins to thaw the ground beneath.

Suddenly she drops to her knees, then lies face down on the grasses, sun warming her back, and chilly air tickling her face. She closes her eyes, pressing her ear and cheek to the bleached brown stubble, sniffing the rich scent of awakening earth through the sweet smell of dried grasses. Her eyes closed, she feels the firm support of the earth beneath yet can almost sense movement, and is slowly flooded with the feeling of being held, while being one and the same with the air, the sun, the earth, boundaries dissolving.

*     *     *

The snow that has been overwhelming various parts of the country recently has reminded me of my childhood home in the “North Country,” which is how people there refer to St. Lawrence county in northern New York State. I was fortunate to grow up in a loving (yet eccentric) family, with parents who taught biological sciences at St. Lawrence University. At that time there was a Universalist theological school at St. Lawrence, where my father was sometimes asked to present the atheist position in their debates, which he did with vigor and enthusiasm. With my mother and sisters, I attended the Universalist Church.

The earliest “religious” experience in my memory did not happen in church, but in my own back yard. The great outdoors was my home during my childhood summers, and my earliest memories of spiritual awakening have to do with experiences in nature. At a conference I attended about ten years ago, the workshop leaders asked those of us in attendance questions about our formative spiritual experiences. Lo and behold, the majority of people related nature experiences.

There are powers at work not only throughout Earth and the universe, but also within every one of the cells in our bodies. We “incarnate” these powers, and when we are conscious of them, our identity expands. Most of the time we struggle to realize our shared identity with other people, never mind animals, plants, rocks, the sun, or the stars. But with the development of our cosmological imagination, our identity can be stretched, and indeed must be, in a world both torn apart and deadened by difference and alienation. Yet we are capable of living ecstatically, finding new energy and joy in life. Some traditions speak of something akin to this “incarnation” and the consequent expansion of our identity in terms like Christ consciousness, or Buddha nature.

Brian Swimme, in his book The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, has a naturalistic, yet transcendent understanding. He wrote,

“We were born out of the Earth Community and its infinite creativity and delight and adventure. Our natural state is intimacy within the encompassing community. Our natural genetic inheritance presents us with the possibility of forming deeply bonded relationships throughout all ten million species of life as well as throughout the nonliving components of the universe.” (p.34)

“We need to put our energy into inventing cultural forms for initiating ourselves into an ecstatic sense of involvement with the community of beings that is the very universe.” (p.36)

People have been doing just that. A Google search on the words Universe Story will bring up plenty of information about earthy and cosmic play and celebration. It’s one thing to read it, and quite another to experience it: in a field or forest, climbing the rocks, under the stars, at the water’s edge. Or maybe in your own back yard.